South Africa’s version of Super Rugby, Super Rugby Unlocked, kicks off at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria on Saturday. Dubbed the Super Fan Day, fans will be treated to a double-header with the Bulls taking on the Sharks, while the Lions will play the Stormers.
It's OFFICIAL! Rugby is coming back to South Africa, and we're kicking it off with a #SuperFanSaturday!
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) September 17, 2020
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) September 22, 2020
Organisers are taking all the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It has been an arduous wait, for local rugby fans to see their favourite players back in action on home soil.
New Zealand and Australia have already done and dusted their domestic competitions, having resumed their rugby almost four months ago.
With the country still adhering to restrictions on mass gatherings and sports events, South Africa’s Super Rugby Unlocked will be played behind closed doors, with less than 200 essential staff accredited for the day.
Loftus also played host to a few Premier Soccer League matches during the lockdown, and stadium manager, Hugo Kemp, says that has allowed them to be better equipped to deal with Saturday’s clashes.
“We have learned a lot of lessons from the PSL Soccer, we were lucky at Loftus to host six matches and there was a lot to learn from what went wrong and what we can improve on and we have used those lessons to improve our systems here at the stadium.”
To further ensure the safety of everyone involved, teams will also follow their own COVID-19 protocols from the moment they arrive at the venue.
“They will all arrive together in a bus and once they are inside the red zone they will be isolated and cannot move out of that area, also something different they will go to the change room, get dressed, warm up, play the match and leave immediately after the match. No showering or functions afterward, it’s a bit more impersonal but for safety that is important.”
The first match between the Bulls and Sharks starts at 4:30pm with the later match involving the Lions and the Stormers getting underway at 7pm.